“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”(Romans 1:16, 17)
I hope you are having a Happy Reformation Day. I am. Perhaps your reply to that is “Reformation
Day? I thought it was Halloween.” You are correct, but only because some things are not out in the
open, as they should be. You see, on October 31, 1517, a Catholic priest named Martin Luther
nailed 95 theses to the door of his church at Wittenberg, Germany. These writings were items of
concern to him regarding the corrupt direction of the Roman Catholic Church at that time. Some of
his main points had to do with a fantasy called indulgences. It was a scheme promoted in Europe in
order to get money from the faithful. It was a pretense, for the scheme was based on giving money,
or goods to buy someone out of guilt for their sins. The price was set by the priest visiting the town
on behalf of the church to raise this money. There were a number of priests involved in this scheme,
which was widespread.
In Martin Luther’s area of Germany there came a Dominican friar, Tetzel, who was the architect of
the plot and was there to bleed the people dry. Tetzel stated that “As soon as the coin in the coffer
rings the soul from purgatory into heaven springs.” Luther opposed him, and had confrontations with
him. It later resulted in the writing of the 95 theses, which were nailed to the door. This was not a
rare thing. Often the door of the church was an outlet for news and announcements. This batch of
information was different, however. First, it was written in Latin. Most of the people could not read
Latin. Second, it was strictly church matters, and would not likely interest many outsiders. But
because Luther preached on these things, it was spread.
Somewhat earlier the Lord had been dealing with Martin Luther concerning the life of faith. When he
was reading Romans, and came across Romans 1:17, it spoke to him in an urgent and special way.
He was especially attracted by the last part of the verse “As it is written, the just shall live by
faith.” It was obvious that God was already dealing with Luther to instruct Him in the truth. He
struggled with the truth of this verse. He sought advice from other priests. No one had a satisfactory
answer. They all went with the Romanist traditions of interpretation. Luther was not satisfied with
this. His struggles with the gospel were already causing interest from the pope. He had sent letters
of censure to Luther already, so when he nailed these 95 theses to the door, it caused uproar in
Rome. It was the culmination of an ongoing struggle between Martin Luther, and the Catholic
Church over reform, especially so in practice of donations for indulgences. However, there were
other deeper issues that revolved around both theological concerns. On a theological level, Luther
had challenged the absolute authority of the Pope over the Church by maintaining that the doctrine
of indulgences, as authorized and taught by the Pope, was wrong. Luther maintained that salvation
was by faith alone (sola fide) without reference to good works, alms, penance, or the Church's
sacraments. He had also challenged the authority of the Church by maintaining that all doctrines
and dogmata of the Church not found in Scripture should be discarded (sola scriptura).
The turmoil increased over several years, and finally in 1521, Pope Leo X issued the Papal bull
Exsurge Domine ("Arise, O Lord"), outlining 41 purported errors found in Martin Luther's 95 theses,
and other writings related to or written by him. On April 17, 1521 Luther had to appear to answer
charges at Worms, a city some 300 miles away from Wittenberg. It was at that time a journey of 15
days. Luther was guaranteed safety for his travel there and back. When Martin Luther appeared
before the assembly, Johann Eck, an assistant of the Archbishop of Trier, acted as a spokesman for
the emperor, Charles V. Luther was set to explain the meaning of the 95 theses, but Eck demanded
that he either affirm or renounce the writings. Luther was very adamant, though polite, and asked for
24 hours to consider it, which was granted to him.
The next day when appearing before Eck, and the others at that hearing, Luther uttered these
famous words: “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures, or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted, and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot, and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience." May God help me. Amen.”
It is interesting that Luther is sometimes also quoted as saying: "Here I stand. I can do no other".
Recent scholars consider the evidence for these words to be unreliable, since they were inserted
before "May God help me" only in later versions of the speech and not recorded in witness accounts
of the proceedings.
The result of the Diet of Worms was that Luther was excommunicated and considered an outlaw.
The emperor Charles V stated in the final draft of the Diet of Worms “We want him to apprehended
and punished as a notorious heretic.” It also made it a crime for anyone in Germany to give Luther
food or shelter. It permitted anyone to kill Luther without legal consequence. He had the guarantee
of safe travel, but Luther did not trust in that. Others had been promised safety and were caught and
In God’s providence someone was looking out for Martin Luther. Frederick III, the Elector of Saxony,
had him intercepted on his way home by masked horsemen, and escorted to the security of
Wartburg Castle at Eisenach. During his stay at Wartburg, which he called “my Patmos”; Luther
translated the New Testament from Greek into German, and poured out doctrinal and polemical
writings. Luther was protected by God for the purpose God had ordained for him. He wasn’t a perfect
man, but he was a vessel of honor, used by the Lord in a mighty way to set forth the Reformation. It
was January 18, 1518 when the 95 theses were translated out of Latin into German. It was printed
and widely copied, making the controversy the first in history to be aided by the printing press.
So we must remember Reformation Day. Why do you think the devil has been so enthusiastic about
Halloween? Surely you must know. The date is so obvious. Satan does not want mankind
awakened out of sleep and following Jesus Christ. At all costs he has wanted that door to remain
closed. Luther didn’t have all the light, but he had a lot. Those who came after him were given more.
We need to work while we still have some light, for night is coming when no man can work. We
must preach Christ to the nations. Pray with us about this ministry. It is getting out all over the world.
Pray that God will anoint it, and use it to reach sinners. I am amazed at where letters and emails
come from. We have only scratched the surface. We can do so much more. You can help us to
spread the uncompromised word of God. Will you? Our Sermon Audio work is accomplishing much.
I want it to do much more. Do you? God bless you!! Please keep praying for us.
Published by Charles Woodruff- email: email@example.com
(Originally published Nov. 1, 2011- Revised Oct. 31, 2013)
The book is titled “The Acts of the Apostles”, but
is more accurately “The Acts of the Holy Spirit”, for He is truly at
work throughout the book in every event. Chapter 16 is remarkable in many ways.
First of all, at Lystra Paul meets Timothy, who was the son of a Greek father
and a Jewish mother. Paul takes him under his wing and brings him along on his
missionary journey. After giving to churches in the region the decrees of the
apostles regarding the things decided in Jerusalem, they wanted to go to Asia,
but the Holy Ghost forbade them.
Then there was the Macedonian call. “And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And
a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia,
and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had
seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly
gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them” (Acts
They went to Philippi in Macedonia and
soon discovered one reason the Spirit sent them there:
“A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of
Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us, whose heart the Lord opened, that she
attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (Acts 16:14).
Later they met a girl possessed of an evil spirit: “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed
with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by
soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are
the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And
this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit,
I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out
the same hour” (Acts 16: 16-18).
Because it took away monetary gain from those who used
her divination powers, these unscrupulous people had the Philippian magistrates
put Paul and Silas in Jail, after beating them severely. This brings us to our
main focus: “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang
praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great
earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately
all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of
the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew
out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had
been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we
are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling,
and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what
must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the
Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the
night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and
rejoiced, believing in God with all his house” (Acts 16:25-34).
We notice that Paul and Silas were not worried, or
defeated even though they had been severely beaten. They were praying, and
singing praises to God at midnight, and the prisoners heard them. This was a
wonderful witness to all who heard, that God would take care of His own.
Instead of being in despair, they were having a praise service. These apostolic
preachers taught us all how to behave under persecution, and many Christians since,
such as John Hus, Polycarp, and Wycliffe, as well as many in our modern day,
have followed their path.
Prison was a rough place to be in the Roman Empire.
Many of today’s prisons in America are like country clubs compared to a Roman prison.
My late friend, Simion Motz, who for his Christian witness, served four years
of a seventeen year sentence in the hellhole communist prisons of his homeland.
He told me that later, when he went to preach at prisons here in the free
world, he was shocked to find that the prisoners had recreation rooms complete
with televisions, ping pong tables, and various games, magazines, books, and
even a swimming pool! He said these prisoners had it better than most common
people had it in communist Romania. My late friend, Haralan Popov, writer of Tortured
for his Faith telling of his 13 years in Bulgarian prisons, said much the
same thing.We see that Paul and Silas
had no luxuries. Only misery!
Yet these men of God were not complaining, though I am
sure they were suffering much pain. Instead they were praying and singing
praises to God. I don’t know what they were singing, but it must have been God
honoring music similar to “Amazing Grace”, “Rock of Ages”, or
some psalms, or spiritual songs. I’m sure they were not singing rock,
hip hop, country or some other “contemporary” concoction patterned after the
world’s music. It was midnight, but they were singing praises unto God, and the
prisoners heard them.
Then came the astounding earthquake. The Lord of
heaven and earth can shake the earth anytime he wants, and here was just the
right time. It was such a shaking that the very foundations of the prison were
shaken.. To further show that this was miraculous, and not a natural phenomenon,
the doors were all opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.
Now remember the jailer, or keeper of the prison, was
charged by the magistrate to firmly secure Paul and Silas in stocks, and
carefully guard them. The leaders were set on stopping the preaching of these
“strange gods”. So the jailer feared for his life, but would rather kill
himself than suffer the shame and humiliation of letting the prisoners escape.
He thought all the prisoners had escaped, and he was going to die anyway, so
why not get it over with.
You can imagine his shock when he heard Paul cry out
loudly “Do thyself no harm, for we are all here” (v.28).Not
one of his charges had left, though all were loosed. So he called for a light
in that dark dungeon and rushed in trembling. He was trembling, not because of the earthquake, nor
because of possible escaped prisoners, or fear of his superiors, but because
the power of the Holy Ghost brought conviction to him. Unlike Felix (Acts
24:25), who trembled when Paul preached to him, the jailer trembled, and asked
a very important question.
No, my friends, the words he next said were not from
worry of escaping prisoners, or reprisals from his superiors, but from Holy
Ghost power brought to his own soul. He had no doubt heard why they were in
jail. Maybe he had heard all the commotion brought about by the possessed girl
who said “These men are servants of the most High God which
shew us the way of salvation” (v. 17).What she said was true, just as when the demons
identified Jesus as the Christ, and He rebuked them because His time had not
yet come. The damsel was causing a distraction and a hindrance. So when Paul
rebuked the demon in her, the handlers lost their meal ticket, and that is why
they wanted the apostles arrested.
But the jailer said “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (v. 30). This is not the normal way a jailer would address a
prisoner. He wouldn’t say “sirs” to them. They were more used to speaking harshly
and abruptly to those arrested and in their care. But he was under Holy Spirit
conviction, and crying out for help for his lost soul. No doubt he saw his
sins. Maybe he was a great sinner. Like Lydia, Cornelius, and the Ethiopian
Eunuch, he was a Gentile, yet he knew he needed what these Jews had. Remember,
Paul and Silas were sinners also. We all are. Remember Paul wrote “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief”
(I Timothy 1:15). If Paul was the chief,
and God saved him, it is a not a problem for God to save the jailer, or you and
What must I do? Well, he could do nothing to save
himself. All he could do was provide the sinner -- God did the rest. Note that
the apostles did not say to keep the law, join the synagogue or church, seek
psychiatric help, repeat a soul winner's prayer, sign a card, or give us all
your money for future blessings. But they said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”Believe totally -- trust in, rely on, cling
to Christ Jesus. Note that Paul and Silas did not say "might be
saved", but “shall be saved". It is
a surety with God.
This is the gospel message in a nutshell again as in I
Timothy 1:15; I Corinthians 15:3-6; Romans 10:9-10; and perhaps Acts 2:38, 39.
“And thy house”. That his house would believe was a statement of prophecy as
well. What a blessing that the gospel floodgates were opened so that all those
who believed may enter in. The evangelists preached Christ to him and his
house. How would you like to have been in that meeting? Yes, the jailer really
was converted. One indication it was real, was his immediate compassion for
those he and others had wronged. He washed their stripes. These two that were roughly
treated under his care were now cared for as brethren. What a change when Jesus
Christ comes into one’s heart! His house still had to believe for themselves,
but with his example and the power of the Spirit, it was done. All of them were
The evangelists were satisfied that the conversions
were real, for the jailer and all his house were baptized the same night. It
was believer’s baptism for sure. Was it immersion? Was there a nearby lake or
pond? As a Baptist by conviction, knowing the meaning of the Greek baptizo (Strong‘s
defines it as “to make whelmed, i.e., fully wet”), I have to believe it was
immersion. Yet I can’t prove it unconditionally from these verses, but many
other places in scripture indicate immersion as the proper mode. Suffice it to
say, salvation had come to the prison keeper’s house, and they were baptized after
Then there was a celebration meal. “He set meat before them and rejoiced, believing in God with all his
house” (Acts 16:34).Note that both Young‘s concordance, and Strong’s
define "rejoiced" as " jumped for joy” (S), or "leaped
for joy” (Y). Yes it was a glorious celebration. It always is when the
awakened children of God embrace Christ; confess Him; close with him.
Regeneration (the making alive), always comes first. Then conviction,
repentance and conversion. Have you been awakened to YOUR need of
Christ, dear reader? Just as He was the only one who could save the jailer and
his house, He is the only one who can save you and your house.
It has never been popular to preach “Christ and Him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2),
yet He said “I am The way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but
by Me” (John 14:6).It is illegal in some countries to preach
Christ. It may be here in the USA if we keep going as we are. You or I may go
to jail, or even die for believing in Christ. The point is; we still have it
relatively easy here, but that is changing rapidly. The followers of
Mohammed (At least many of them), have vowed to destroy Christianity and
take over this country. May God forbid! But if that happens great tribulation
will come for the true Christians. Are you ready?
What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb, I will sing.
To God and to the Lamb Who is the great “I Am”;
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing;
While millions join the theme, I will sing.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And through eternity, I’ll sing on.
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"He must increase, I must decrease" (John 3:30). My name is Charles Woodruff. I am 74 years old, and my desire is to serve God the rest of my days, preaching the old evangelical gospel that Paul and Peter preached, that Calvin preached, that Whitefield preached, that Spurgeon preached, and that Isaac Watts wrote about in his hymns. You are welcome! I hope you like our blogs.Your comments are also welcome. Please feel free to comment.
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